Wednesday, November 19, 2014

‘Buffalo hit’ goads SpiceJet to survey points vulnerable

Following the incident at Surat Airport earlier this month — when a SpiceJet aircraft was hit by a buffalo while taking off — the airline has launched its own survey of other small and vulnerable airports parallel to a probe being undertaken by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The airline, which is learnt to have “cancelled” more than 30 flights in the past week, said it’s going through a “fleet restructuring”, which has led to “rescheduling” of flights.

“We have changed our schedule. This is some short term pain. We are telling passengers that we have changed it for a short time till sometime in December and we are accommodating them. The passengers are being taken care of,” Sanjiv Kapoor, the airline’s chief operating officer, said.

Following the Surat incident, SpiceJet is doing a survey of smaller airports around the country, Kapoor said.

“We withdrew from Surat because the airport is still not secure and the aircraft is still there. We have started inspecting other small airports on our own. We will be sharing our findings with the DGCA, which is carrying out its own survey. But now we do not want to take a chance. The Surat incident is a wake up call for the industry,” he said. The DGCA is already probing the November 6 incident where around 170 passengers and crew had a narrow escape.

The budget airline’s daily flights have fallen from 345 in July to 300 now, and its Boeing 737 fleet from 35 in July to 28 — of which two are not operational. Kapoor said the airline will have a fleet of 35 Boeing 737 aircraft by December and hopes to have 45-50 Boeing in the fleet by the second half of the next calendar year.

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